Enjoy Cindy Richmond’s stunning portfolio of paintings. We recently spoke with her about her journey, her inspiration, and becoming a full-time artist.
ABI: You claim to be an “accidental artist” – how did that happen?
CR: Any notion I had of following my mother’s artistic career ended in college. A professor told me my work looked like “smudge by number.” I chose instead to become a writer (novels and food writing.) When my mother died, I suddenly had an urge to take up watercolors.
My mother painted with oils but that seemed like too much of a commitment. I loved the sense of losing myself for hours at a time while painting. I wasn’t very good. The odds of becoming a professional artist remained as likely as becoming a pop star. (It still scares me that I might have lived my life without knowing I could paint.)
Challenging classes at the Art League of Alexandria stoked my passion. I switched to pastels when I saw their vibrant intensity. It didn’t hurt that, unlike in watercolor, mistakes were correctable. I had stopped writing and painted six days a week. Even when I was accepted into the Pastel Society of America, I didn’t think of myself as a professional artist. People didn’t jump/shift in their mid-fifties. (Actually, now it seems that nearly everyone in their fifties has become an artist.)
In 2006, I switched to oils for practical reasons. My pastels were very large, and framing was prohibitive.
Geography certainly contributed to my career. The Art League offices are in The Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia. Founded by artists 42 years ago in an old munitions plant, the Torpedo Factory Art Center has 82 studios, over a hundred artists, plus galleries where the public can watch and interact with artists of all disciplines. I badly wanted to be a part of it. The annual jurors had other ideas. Finally, in 2006, I got in. The next day, I went to city hall to get a business license and became a professional artist.
ABI: What inspires your current body of work?
CR: I alternate between several series: food, Asian influence, landscapes, seascapes, boats and whimsical. Someone commented that I paint what has been problematic in my life. Possibly. For a while, I concentrated on oversized food paintings. And certainly I have painted more sailboats than is reasonable for one who spent her childhood capsized, becalmed or befogged.
ABI: Tell us about your art community and the support you have found there.
CR: I worked part-time in the Art League Supply store for 14 years. I met the artists of the Torpedo Factory long before I was juried in. Most were wonderfully generous in their advice and encouragement. It was a small store but carried five oil paint lines. I loved introducing artists to new colors or techniques.
Being immersed in an art community is simply a godsend. If I have a problem with a painting, help is next door.